Monday, December 24, 2007

YouTube and Viewer Responsiveness Index

Today, it was too cold for me to go on a bike ride... Instead, I played sleuth and joined the digital natives on YouTube! I explored the correlation between “brand” and the number of video viewers for a selected set of companies. The results were quite surprising! The companies I selected are enterprise apps companies Oracle and SAP, Internet juggernauts Yahoo and Google, as the enterprise 2.0 proxy, FaceBook as the Social Network / Internet platform, and Microsoft as Microsoft.

In an effort to remain objective, I chose to be very quantitative. I added up the number of viewers for the first five videos for each company, sorted by “relevance” and “all time”, as well as the number of comments and ratings. I then created a ratio that I call the “Viewer Responsiveness Index” – VR Index – to characterize the engagement of the viewer vis-à-vis the video.

Et voila, the winner on total views is FaceBook with more viewers than Google and Microsoft combined! And, first place for the VR Index goes to Microsoft with a score of 3.80, but keep on reading as the numbers themselves aren’t the whole story.

Indeed, quantitative analysis is great but it can only take you so far. So let’s enter a more subjective and qualitative world.

Oracle and SAP have the worst VR Index which may be explained by the fact that their videos are geared at techies and that watching a video about SAP NetWeaver or Oracle Fusion doesn’t necessarily generate a lot of excitement. By contrast, videos are packed with humor and more fun to watch. So, while total viewership is the lowest of the companies surveyed, Salesforce generates a VR Index of 3.41 with mostly positive comments!
So by now you must be thinking: How is it possible for Microsoft to obtain such a high VR Index? Well, if you work in Marketing at Microsoft, don’t get too smug… The most watched video for Microsoft is Microsoft Surface Parody with 1,550,904 viewers. And, Punish Your Microsoft Developer garners 214,280 viewers alone… I guess people like to make fun of the Redmond Empire.

Google’s technical videos got a little bit more traction than Oracle’s or SAP’s, but what really boosts Google’s numbers are the Google Earth videos that all told reach nearly 2,000,000 viewers. As for Yahoo, the number of total viewers would have fallen below 80,000 if it weren’t for a Japanese video called Hard Gay Japan with 203,392 viewers.
So, where am I going with all of this? One thing is for sure, as the video-web becomes more important than the text-web, companies will need to keep an eye or two on what’s happening on YouTube. And while one could argue that comparing Oracle to Google in the context of YouTube is not meaningful, I hope that everybody will agree that comparing Google to Yahoo is very relevant! The unresolved question is whether the VR Index is a backward or looking-forward indicator.
OK, it’s time for me to bring my daughters to soccer practice. Happy holidays!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

How far can you reach with IPTV?

Do you think that IPTV is television over the Internet?

If you said yes, sorry to disappoint, but you loose. IPTV stands for Internet Protocol Television. It’s a transport mechanism that telephone companies and cable operators use to deliver a television like experience. For now, most of the operator-deployed IPTV systems are designed to be walled gardens.

The systems operators want to deploy in walled gardens to ensure quality of service (QOS) and limit hacking and piracy. IPTV over the public Internet is called “streaming video”. As mentioned in a previous post, Shelly Palmer describes these technologies and their application very well in “Television Disrupted”.

A predictable quality of service and control over content aggregation is very critical for advertisers as they want to enhance the viewing experience and protect their brand. They also want to have as good a knowledge as possible of who is viewing their ads. IPTV offers a two-way system that allows for census based measurement – as opposed to sample based like AC Nielsen – and transactional user experience. In addition, the deployment of IPTV systems on video game platforms, portable video devices, and the growing adoption of DVRs allows for a consumer-based time-shifted experience.

This is, pardon the cliché, a true paradigm change! Clearly, to be effective in this new framework requires to think in terms of addressable and dynamic ads… It also requires having tremendous creativity and imagination, as well as, good processes to keep budgets under control. I find this so very exciting: Better knowledge, more imagination and more fun!

If you think that I’m getting carried away, take a look at the IPTV Subscribers Wordwilde 2006-2011 forecast from iSuppli Corporation and eMarketer from April 2007. The survey predicts the number of subscribers worldwide to grow from roughly 4 million in 2006 to over 100 million in 2011, with 45% of the viewers in Europe, 39% in Asia and 16%in the Americas.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Youth Soccer and Viral Marketing

My beloved wife and I spent our weekend watching one of our daughters compete in the Norcal Cup soccer tournament. I have two daughters and both of them have recently joined a terrific club in Palo Alto called the Union Football Club (UFC). UFC ( is run by a family of former soccer professionals (Gary, Carine, Simon and Vic Ireland) very close to the Women’s US National Team, Stanford Soccer and Julie Foudy. They support the “Right To Play” program: Right To Play is an athlete-driven international humanitarian organization that uses sport and play as a tool for the development of children and youth in the most disadvantaged areas of the world. Right To Play is committed to improving the lives of these children and to strengthening their communities by translating the best practices of sport and play into opportunities to promote development, health and peace. Also, UFC recently had John Owens, assistant academy director from Liverpool FC, as a guest coach.

My point is that this club is actively connecting on a worldwide scale. So, how is it possible for a relatively small soccer club to run such a quality program with global reach? This is the question that I was pondering while driving back from the game…

My first thought was that due to their total passion and dedication for the kids and soccer they had created a very viral marketing program by default! Then, I decided to check how those who had coined the term viral marketing , actually defined it. According to Steve Jurvetson, the term was coined in a Netscape newsletter in 1997 and defined loosely as “network-enhanced word of mouth”. One of the critical elements of viral marketing is that every customer becomes an involuntary salesperson by using the product. So far, so good, UFC is definitely viral as every player tries to bring their friends over! Technically, it’s called usage affiliation. However, Steve Jurvetson goes on to say, using Hotmail as an example, that their subscriber base grew from zero to 12 million users in 18 months, and that from a memetic engineering perspective, viral marketing takes place when an idea spreads like an adaptive virus.

All right, all right, may be it doesn’t have quite the necessary scale to be called viral marketing. May be it was just plain silly of me to try to codify this club’s success in marketing terms. What really matters is that the coaches have tremendous skills, dedication and gumption and that the kids love them. Now that I think about it, a more appropriate analysis should have been framed in the context of “Zen and the Art of Youth Soccer Coaching”, an exploration into the Metaphysics of soccer quality!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Social Networks, Pizza and Clean Tech

I thought I’d share a very successful and personal story about a Clean Tech initiative that epitomizes what Community Marketing is all about: The California Clean Tech Open ( Within its first year of existence the California Clean Tech Open became the richest Clean Tech competition in the nation, was awarded an MIT presidential citation and recognized as one of the 100 best ideas in the New York Times! Now, in its 3rd year the California Clean Tech Open has raised directly more than $2 million in prize (cash and services) and has helped the competition winners raise more than $10 million from the venture community.

It all started back in the fall of 2005 at a conference of the MIT Club of Northern California Clean Tech Program. Several of us had identified a structural vacuum, in the then nascent Clean Tech segment, between entrepreneurs, academics, national labs like Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the venture community. We believed that this vacuum was significantly slowing down the commercialization and adoption of promising clean technologies. So, we decided to create a business plan competition that would act as a catalyst to foster and accelerate innovation. The California Clean Tech Open was born, as a non-profit organization staffed by volunteers. Our motto: By entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs! Our modus operandi: Speed and excellence in execution!

On March 21, 2006, less than five months later, the competition was officially launched at San Francisco City Hall with a keynote address by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, joined by several guests including Tim Draper of Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Tom King CEO of PG&E, Dian Grueneich Commissioner California Public Utility Commission, and a representative from the Governor’s office. We announced that we would give a $100,000 “Start-up-in-a-box” prize to the five category winners. The original five categories were: Renewables, Transportation, Energy Efficiency, Smart Power and Water Management, (Green Buildings was added for the 2007 competition).

On Sept 26, 2006, the North Light Court in San Francisco City Hall filled with over 250 attendees to witness the awards ceremony. We were honored to host such national, state, and industry leaders as California Energy Commissioner Art Rosenfeld, National Resource Defense Council Co-Director Ralph Cavanaugh and renowned venture capitalist and biofuels expert Vinod Khosla, Principal and Founder of Khosla Ventures. The 2006 prize sponsors were Agora Foundation, AMD, Lexus, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Sempra Energy and Southern California Edison. Charter partners included A&R Edelman, MIT club of Northern California and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati! This very elite group was joined in 2007 by Google.

It has been by all measures a great success and while we certainly made mistakes along the way, here is what we did right:

1. Identified a significant need where there was pent-up demand
2. Defined a clear mission for the organization
3. Developed a simple strategic plan to ensure maximum speed of execution
4. Articulated a clear value proposition for all constituencies
5. Adapted our plan to reflect feedback
6. Focused on delivering value to the contestants (training, mentoring, feedback sessions)
7. Were absolutely passionate about our mission

More specifically, and from a Marketing standpoint, we focused on getting the word out to the constituencies we wanted to reach. Indeed, getting immediate reach was critical for us as we needed both to generate interest with high-quality sponsors and attract high-level entrepreneurs. Building a targeted social network was job #1. The MIT Club Clean Tech Program created a group on Linkedin, we used Eloqua for mailings and established a Yahoo group for internal communication. And while Job #1 was very much around “push”, job #2 had to be around “pull” if we were to succeed. This meant aggressive PR (thank you A&R Edelman), a website with as many self-service capabilities as possible (registration forms, FAQs, eligibility rules,…), as well as, strong established ecosystem partners like CalCEF, CleanEdge, Greenjobs and the Cleantech Venture Network. We were hoping to reach out to grad students through social media marketing on FaceBook and mySpace but for several reasons had to go more low-tech and hired an outfit to do “postering” on 30+ campuses. This didn’t work out at all! Fortunately, this flop did not prevent the contestants from signing up “en masse”, as we had to review close to 200 business plans in various stages… Our web team did a bang up job and spent many nights de-bugging the application (remember that everybody had a day job). As far as media coverage goes, we must have had a pretty compelling story that resulted in news or bylined articles from KTVU Channel 2, MSNBC, CleanEdge News, Red Herring, ZDNet, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, Motley Fool, local papers like the Palo Alto Weekly and the Almanac, as well as, more long-tail coverage from the New York Times (100 Best Ideas for 2006) and IEEE. Wilson Sonsini very generously helped us organize our summer workshops program (Clean Tech 201 Entrepreneur Series) where very accomplished entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and renowned academics came to assist the entrepreneurs finalize their business plans.

The California Clean Tech Open is a great example of Community Marketing. While passion, talent and dedication amongst the core volunteers is essential, success would not be possible without the enormous good will of the sponsors and partners who continue to generously support this initiative with their time, resources and even more critically with their advice. Yet, despite Linkedin and social media marketing tools, the real magic throughout the process has been the team dinners, that one of us - let’s call him Mickey so as not to embarrass him - keeps throwing with good beer and Amici’s pizzas!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Video Web - Better, Faster and Cheaper

In a survey published in Sept. 2007, McKinsey confirmed that marketing executives around the world were moving online across the spectrum of marketing activities, from building awareness to after-sales service and that they see online tools as an important and effective component of their marketing strategies! However, the use of wikis and virtual worlds was more limited because of an absence of meaningful metrics.

Also, McKinsey reported that spending on digital advertising was set to increase significantly. The video ads category was the fastest growing with 74% of the respondents saying that they would increase spending over the next three years.

As discussed previously, I believe that one of the reasons for the expected growth is the maturity of content creation tools as well as more reliable delivery options (CDNs). Tools and services that facilitate the management and tracking of the digital assets (watermark, fingerprinting,…) at a lower cost and with a better experience for the viewers.

Akamai, with Stream OS, outputs video in multiple formats, so content provider don’t have to manually reformat outgoing content for each type of recipient. Moreover, the metadata attached to video and audio content includes rules and cue for how the content should be distributed, as well as description for search engines. BitTorrent, previously synonymous with digital piracy, announced early October a new enterprise CDN product called BitTorrent DNA. BitTorrent DNA is designed for publishers seeking ways to overcome slow downloads and choppy video streams. Brightcove is the first customer for BitTorrent DNA.

In addition many other more recent vendors like Joost, Babelgum, BitGravity and Rinera Networks continue to improve both QOS and Digital Asset Management at a frantic pace.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Video Web and New Product Introduction

When I created the first on-line presence for Oracle in 1994 / 1995 with the Oracle Store, the web was essentially text-based, not very interactive and banner ads barely getting started. Many companies were either reluctant or afraid of using this new media! Well, we are now well into Web2.0 and more accessible technology and maturing business models are opening the floodgates for video on the web. I’m thinking specifically about the Enterprise in a business-to-business context.

At the MIT’s Enterprise Forum’s Brave New Web conference in February, Jeremy Allaire Brightcove’s CEO was saying that the Internet was rapidly moving from a “text web” to a “video web”. I couldn’t agree more. He added that Brightcove was developing several “social media” additions to work with its video hosting and distribution system. This type of technology will allow viewers to participate in the creation of content and therefore enable interactivity.

Imagine how corporations who embrace and master the “video web” could dramatically re-invent the way they do new product introduction, partner and employee training, as well as facilitate customer’s adoption! Unfortunately, I’m developing a certain sense of déjà-vu… Yet again, very few have the imagination and creativity to think “video” mode and are still in the animated Microsoft’s Powerpoint mode… I guess that we are still in the classic Geoff Moore’s early adopter phase and that the tornado hasn’t arrived yet!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Television 2.0?

One thing is for sure, you need to step-up your game to keep winning. It applies to soccer, a game that I love, and also to advertising. As you determine your media planning strategies, remember that we are moving from an age of sample-based measurement (AC Nielsen) to an age of census-based measurement. While this has always been true on the web it’s now happening with TV, as it moves from broadcast to IP based. There is an excellent book that covers this transformation in details: Television Disrupted.

In Television Disrupted, Shelly Palmer does a great job at presenting the probable futures of TV. From broadcast to narrowcast, from linear to dynamic and time-shifted,from analog to digital, Shelly explores and tries to anticipate the response of "old media" (networks) to "new media" (networked). How will "IP" and user generated content overcome inertia and established advertising / revenue models? All fascinating questions in a well thought-out framework. In the end and as always consumers will choose and define what is to become a much richer experience known as Television 2.0!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Quantitative Marketing and Repositioning

In previous posts I wrote about positioning and sales readiness and used as an example of “evolving” positioning. is a valuable example in the context of what I’d describe as linear success. Other companies haven’t had such "linear" success and have had to completely change course. Tellme Networks is such a company. The Tellme Networks' case study is well documented (Andrew Rachleff – Standford GSB 2007). And from my experience, I can say that the senior leadership made significant strategic marketing decisions that can be abstracted and applied elsewhere.

It is not my purpose to go into details about Tellme’s history, but some context is necessary: Tellme was founded in 1999 and, after having raised $238 million and showing little revenue for it, had to drastically alter its strategy and redirect its focus from consumers to enterprises. Mike McCue, CEO, and Bill Campbell (Board advisor and Intuit chairman) hired David Weiden as VP of marketing to implement the “Foundation Account Strategy” which re-directed the sales and marketing team toward a limited number of very large accounts.

Not to worry, this story has a happy ending! In my opinion, three key actions enabled Tellme's comeback: Firstly, management recognized that the sales strategy (target market) and marketing mix (emphasis on branding) was not yielding the appropriate results. Secondly, they demonstrated the fortitude required to drastically alter course (consumer to enterprise). And finally, they hired the right talent and employed the use of quantitative marketing.

David Weiden, VP of marketing, developed “Project Rifle” to implement the “Foundation Account Strategy”- a quantitative fact-based approached (as opposed to opinion based) - to determine which accounts to go after. The process produced a score-based stack ranking of the customer targets and included criteria such as revenue opportunity, adoption profile, acquisition and opportunity costs. This was a painful and slow process that required tremendous skill in change management along with support from the top. Eventually, Tellme Networks was acquired by Microsoft in March 2007 for $800 million. Tellme phone network processes more than 2 billion calls per year and is used by 40 million people!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Lead Generation and Sales Readiness

One of the key roles of Marketing is to generate well qualified leads at the lowest possible cost. I’m sure that this will not come as a surprise. It’s an age-old problem and a continuous area of friction between the Sales and Marketing organizations. A complex problem that requires utmost attention! Indeed, as a company with momentum, you are now face with the formidable challenge to scale up your sales force. It requires good hiring, good training and grooming. By now, you must be wondering what sales productivity and sales enablement have to do with lead generation. The answer is that both are very closely linked. A lead that cannot be processed by the sales force is no lead at all! Marketing must stop throwing the leads over the wall and recognize that the job doesn’t stop once the prospect has been identified. On the contrary, it is when the fun really begins. So, as you build your lead generation machine you must take into consideration the organic nature of the process. Don’t hide behind your CRM system and make an effort to educate yourself about the state of the sales force and the pipeline:

1. Build the appropriate pipeline based on historical close ratio and sales force readiness (i.e. Is knowledge in the field appropriate? Is account management seniority appropriate? …).
2. Nurture your existing customers to ensure that they will be references.
3. Revisit your assumptions constantly and remember that change is the only constant. Don’t build your organization assuming a steady-state environment.
4. Listen actively to your customers. This means don’t outsource “customer management”. Focus on doing repeat business with existing customers. It requires a very different strategy that going after “white space”.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Art of Positioning - Part III Evolution

So, is on its way to $1b in revenue and had a very well attended DreamForce conference a few months ago in San Francisco. So, is everything perfect in “No Software” land? Well, there are plenty of pundits that you can consult… My purpose here is strictly to examine how the positioning has evolved from the early days and attempt to imagine a probable future. Astutely, Marc Benioff chose the CRM moniker for the company when they went public. An interesting step as CRM is a much broader application footprint than SFA. Then, “Software is dead” became on-demand CRM and / or software as a service SaaS. Then the Apex programming language was introduced, then the AppExchange application sharing service, then the operating system of the on-demand and service-oriented architecture worlds and a mash-up composite web applications custom platform… I’m sure you get the idea. And the home page, as of Nov. 27 2007, displays the following:

2. No software button
3. 100 new CRM features
4. Platform as a service
5. Success on demand
6. Success force (for customization and integration)
8. Appexchange

The breadth of these categories is starting to dilute the perception of what SalesForce is in the mind of prospects and customers alike. There lies a complex positioning problem. Indeed, as grows, its positioning evolves, and I’d say that at this point in time the “messaging portfolio” does not support the overarching positioning of Simplicity and Ease-of-Everything… This is natural as early objectives have been achieved (validity of on-demand apps) and new ones need to be reached (from mid-market to enterprise and need for configuration).

And while positioning purity is not an objective in and of itself, it is always preferable to have a positioning that supports the values of the brand. Software is definitely more alive than ever but (as a name) is aging. Long live!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Art of Positioning - Part II Creation

Does anyone dispute the fact that has been extremely successful? I didn’t think so. One of the reasons is Marc Benioff’s genius at positioning. Let’s have a look.

Step 1: Make it easy to understand what you do.
The name of the company very explicitly conveys empowerment for the Sales organization. A good idea since SalesForce’s offering started as a very easy to use contact management solution.
Step 2. Establish clear differentiation AND value in plain English.
This is critical because neither differentiation NOR value alone will suffice. In the SalesForce example, Marc Benioff pushed forward an easy to understand differentiation concept: No software! It was not about ASP this, On-demand that or other similar concepts. Nope, something with a bit more of an edge: Software is dead… A concept re-enforced by simplicity throughout the whole process: Easy to try – Easy to Buy – Easy to Use and did I mention Easy to Upgrade… The value derived from this SFA system was a direct consequence of this on-demand / SaaS offering (because after all, SalesForce is a software company): Low “acquisition” risk, short time-to benefit and no additional IT infrastructure required.
Step 3. Be bold, loud and repetitive.
Suffice it to say that we’ve all seen the “Software is dead” buttons and the cogent and well executed responses to richer and more established vendors like Siebel Systems and SAP.

A great positioning, well executed by a very talented team and backed up by a product that does the job. So, how will evolve and mature? What will become of “Software is dead”? We’ll explore Positioning Evolution another time.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Art of Positioning - Part I Destination

If you’re worrying about the positioning of your company, take heart. Only successful companies do. Successful positioning is one that creates a deep sense of relevance and trust in the mind of the potential buyer. Positioning is a journey, not a destination. The market evolves, your company grows and your customers mature. What was yesterday's news is now quaint. What was innovation is now commodity. So, what is the first symptom of ailing positioning? The first and most obvious one is loss of sales momentum. Most companies react by re-organizing the sales force and replacing the VP of Sales. It is sometimes justified, but Marketing should be held accountable as well and be closely monitoring sales cycles, customers’ feedback and speed of product adoption. In Part II , we’ll analyze a very contemporary positioning success:

Monday, November 19, 2007

Product Management vs. Product Marketing

Most people still refer to the functions of product management and product marketing as inbound and outbound. Unfortunately, there is more than a semantic difference between the two and confusion can be deadly for the product organization. Indeed, product life cycles keep shrinking, competition takes no prisoners and engineering resources are always scarce!

Both product managers and product marketers have to know intimately representative customers if your product organization is to achieve a customer-centric design process. This will allow the product manager to have both knowledge and authority when she writes MRDs. And, the product marketer will gain a clear understanding of how the product is being used and what benefits are derived. So, while both functions have different roles and are accountable for different parts of the process they have to converge in their knowledge of the customers' needs.